Still depending on your kids to figure out why your smartphone’s acting weird? As a rule, children are wired to explore, experiment and get results through trial and error - usually more quickly than grownups. But why?
That and similar questions will be covered Tuesday, March 19, by UC Berkeley developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, who is presenting one of the two talks at this year’s Martin Meyerson Faculty Research Lectures , a 106-year-old campus tradition.
Gopnik is the author of such best-selling books as The Scientist in the Crib, The Philosophical Baby and The Gardener and the Carpenter . Her lecture, "Life History and Learning: When (and Why) Children Are Better Learners than Both Adults and A.I," will be held at International House.
Also presenting for the faculty research lecture series will be Jill Banfield, Berkeley professor of earth and planetary sciences and of environmental sciences, policy and management. On April 30, she will discuss "Mysteries of the Invisible World of Microbes" at Sibley Auditorium at the Bechtel Engineering Center.
Both events are free and open to the public and run from 4-5 p.m.
Here’s a sneak preview of what Gopnik has to say about what makes kids better learners than adults:
What makes children smarter at figuring out how things work?Children are devoted to learning about the world, instead of just focusing on getting things accomplished. They explore the actual world and pretend worlds and imagine crazy things. What we’ve found in our research is that this kind of exploration makes kids better than adults at finding unlikely solutions to a problem.
Can you give an example of how kids think outside the box?My grandson Augie was chatting with his grandfather when his grandfather told him, "I wish I could be a kid again." Augie thought for a while and then said, "Maybe you could try not eating any broccoli or green beans or healthy vegetables, and then you could go back to being small."
This isn’t a hypothesis any grown-up would come up with, but, of course, it makes sense to a child - healthy vegetables turn kids into big strong adults, so their absence might have the opposite effect.